Congratulations to Tracy Sweeney who is the August 2016 Click Pro of the Month! Tracy has graced us with her presence for a quick interview and to share some of her work. You can find her online on Facebook and Instagram.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into photography?
I’m Tracy Sweeney, owner of Elan Studio. I live and operate in Bristol, Rhode Island with my beautiful family; Matt (my hubby) and I have five children ranging from 5 to 11. I’m a New England girl to the core; I love all things ocean. I could eat lobster for every meal for every day of my life. I began my photography journey as a hobbyist around 2008, never with the intention of becoming a professional. I was working as a full time teacher as well as completing Doctoral work in Curriculum & Instruction. Becoming a mother and documenting my own children completely shifted my direction. In 2012, I opened my studio, converting a rustic barn structure on my property.
When photographing subjects, what are your top considerations or goals?
My goal always, when photographing children and their families, is to make sure everyone enjoys the experience. Beyond crafting the images, it is so important to make the families and children feel comfortable so that they truly enjoy our time together and value the service I provide. I want the children to remember how much fun they had at our session, and I want their parents to feel at ease so they can enjoy what we are doing together. More than any beautiful image I can create for them, referrals come from how people feel when they are with you. I work closely with my families to guide them through the whole process from booking to gallery delivery.
What are some specific pieces of advice or practical tips you have for other photographers?
Work toward authenticity and not necessarily originality. If you have an original concept or idea that hasn’t been done before, wonderful, but more important is photographing from a place of authenticity. To be authentic is to be genuine. It is okay to do something that has been done before, but find a way to make it genuinely yours.
Do not get caught up in thinking you need to buy everything, always coveting something new. Learn your camera, practice with the lenses you have, shoot in different light at different times of day, that is how you will discover what you can do and what you want to do.
Describe your proudest photography moment.
I would have to say one of my proudest photography moments was seeing my images on packaging at Target Stores. I was there shopping and walked down the baby section looking for a registry gift and I literally leapt in the aisle when I saw my pictures on a huge box. I pulled a couple aside to take my photo with the box, which in itself is a bizarre request. I was like, “OMG! These are my images! Well, these pictures aren’t of me, I mean, I took them, and they’re on this box, and this is so cool.” The couple didn’t say much. But they took my picture.
How did you find your style?
It took me about a year to truly know what and who I wanted to photograph. Almost all of my business is child photography, inclusive of my commercial work, and that really helped me to focus attention and develop my niche. Defining my style has been essential to my success. I shoot mostly natural light and edit all of my images similarly to create consistency across my work. Photographing only those shoots that I want to shoot keeps me motivated and passionate. In the beginning, as I was discovering myself as a photographer, I tried to be everything for everyone. I learned quickly that in order for me to be successful, to pursue this business in a way that made me excited to wake each day and inspired for each shoot, I was going to focus only on those sessions I wanted to shoot.
What is your very favorite photography trick or tool?
My favorite trick is playing with my levels in Photoshop. It is so easy to do, and can be so impacting on a photo.
- Canon 5D mark III
- Canon 35mm f/1.4L
- Canon 50mm f/1.2L
- Canon 85mm f/1.2L
- Canon 100mm f/2.8L
- Canon 200mm f/2L
- Canon 8-15mm f/4L